European Welfare Models and Mental Wellbeing in Final Years of Life

Summary and overall aim

The main aim of the EMMY project was to use a mixed methods design to investigate what aspects may contribute to the development of good welfare policies supporting mental wellbeing (MWB) in oldest-old age. The qualitative study included a total of 117 participants from four European countries (Finland, Italy, Norway, Spain) asked participants aged 80 and over recruited from senior community centres, adult day care centres, and nursing homes to explore their thoughts MWB. Data was assessed using qualitative content analysis resulting in four themes/dimensions: functional, social, personal and environmental. The results reinforce the dynamic and multidimensional nature state of MWB. A systematic review on instruments measuring MWB in oldest old age found reliable and valid instruments to be scarce, and specific measures of MWB for people aged 80+ to be non-existent. Quantitative analyses were based on data from Round 6 (2012) of the European Social Survey (ESS). Exploratory Structural Equation Model (ESEM) highlighted the importance of 1) the evaluative dimension (where the item ‘having a sense of direction in life’ was especially important); 2) the emotional dimension of well-being (including positive affect such as enjoyment, calmness and happiness); 3) positive psychological functioning (including autonomy, competence, self-esteem, optimism and vitality); 4) meaning and flow (describing states of presence and engagement); and 5) positive and supportive relationships (referring to giving and receiving support and appreciation by others). These factors can be of use when developing policies which support MWB in oldest old age.

Project details

EMMY participated in the second joint call on ‘Welfare, wellbeing and demographic change: Understanding welfare models’.

Project duration

1 January 2017 – 31 December 2019.


  • National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Finland.
    Kristian Wahlbeck (coordinator)
  • Åbo Akademi University, Finland.
    Anna Forsman
  • SINTEF, Norway.
    Jorid Kalseth
  • The Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM), Spain.
    Marta Miret
  • University of Verona (UNIVR), Italy.
    Francesco Amaddeo